Writing can be a lonely process, but it doesn’t have to be.
One of the many amazing things about the internet is that it makes the world so much smaller and more accessible. Your people are out there, you just have to know where to find them.
I have been fortunate to find “my people” in both my advertising-life and my fiction-writing one.
The advertising industry is like one big networking group in and of itself, I think of it as a small community that’s spread out across the country. While it has a reputation of being a boys club, with the rise of The 3% Conference —an organization that’s working to change the fact that, at the time, only 3% of creative directors were women—it seems like more and more groups are popping up with women supporting other women.
The group I was drawn to is GirlsDay, a private Facebook community for women in all disciplines of advertising. While the group is based in Chicago, there are over 2,000 members all around the country.
GirlsDay fosters an amazing and supportive community, providing a place for fellow MadWomen to turn for advice, share their hardships, celebrate their successes and even spread the word about job opportunities. One discussion in the group even inspired a powerful social action campaign, Know No, by Snake Roth and Stephanie Franke, two friends and co-workers of mine.
When it comes to fiction writing, the amount of writers out there is mind-boggling, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of writing groups. I know, because for about two weeks after I finished my manuscript, I joined them all.
All I can say about that is thank goodness for the un-subscribe option!
It was clear from the start that a few of the groups I joined weren’t right for me. (Un-subscribe!) Others, it took a while to figure out. (Un-subscribe!) But when I found “the one,” I knew almost right away that I had found my tribe.
For me, that organization was the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Unlike the other groups I joined, this one charged a small fee. Since I heard about it from a writer-friend who’d heard about it from another writer-friend, I decided to pony up and pay the $48 to join. And I am so glad that I did.
Not only was the price more than worth what I have already gotten out of it, but the cost-of-entry helps keep the riff-raff out, ensuring that other members are also serious about their writing.
There are so many things I love about this group. First and foremost, the other writers—men and women who are all in different stages of the writing and publishing process. I’ve been able to get to know several of them through their private Facebook community, where members can turn for inspiration, advice, critiques and support.
As a relatively new member, there are other great resources I haven’t been able to take advantage of yet, including a retreat, a conference, online classes and even an online PitchFest (I did that one!) where they brought 15 agents together to read the pitches of 120 member writers.
This post isn’t meant to be an advertisement for either group. If they sound like something you’d like to be a part of, join us! If not, I’m sure your tribe is out there. Just keep joining groups until you find the one that’s right for you.
While it’s easy and convenient to search for “your people” online, there are a lot of great opportunities to find them offline, too.
Just this past weekend, I attended my second writing conference (I’ll share more about that in a later post). One of the best things about going to a conference is the networking— just having the chance to meet fellow writers, agents, editors and publishers in person is worth the price of admission.
Not only did I exchange business cards with a lot of great writers and a few awesome agents, but I also heard about two other writing organizations that I decided to give a try.
One of the groups is a local organization, The Chicago Writers Association, and another is a Facebook group, Binders Full of Women Novelists. I get the Mitt Romney reference, but apparently there is a whole network of “Binders” out there where women can find and support other women. Who knew?
Last, but certainly not least, I can’t write about finding your writing “people” in Chicago without calling out the first place that helped me build my writing network—Story Studio Chicago. I haven’t made it there since I moved back, but during the first five years I lived in Chicago, I took several classes at the studio, attended a weekend retreat and a few of their write-in sessions. I definitely recommend checking it out.
If you know of any other great organizations for writers, share them in the comments!